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Upcoming Elections Amidst Pandemic Pose a Challenge to EC

May 11, 2020

The current Coronavirus pandemic is influencing the livelihood of people around the world. The social distancing requirement has compelled us to alter the way in which we would carry out our daily grind. Governments all over the world have amended their functioning. The significant question that floats before the democracies is about future elections. It is unethical in any democracy to postpone elections, which itself has its limitations.

Upcoming Elections in India 2020

In order to uphold the democratic spirit adopted by the constitution, India also needs to contemplate on the possibility of holding elections amidst the current circumstances. Let us analyze the permutations and combinations for the upcoming elections in India.

 

Limitations of Postponing Elections

Unlike the Rajya Sabha elections that the EC has postponed indefinitely. It can postpone the State Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections for a period of six months only. Constitution has defined this limit under Article 85(1) and Article 174(1). In addition to six months, polls can be extended further by declaring an emergency. However, an emergency can only be declared on account of the threat to national security or sovereignty of the nation. All these limitations have necessitated the conduct of elections by the Election Commission.

 

Upcoming state Elections and lessons from South Korea

The Election Commission had scheduled Bihar assembly elections in November 2020. In a short period after Bihar elections, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry are also due for state assembly elections. With a massive population like India, EC will face the toughest job of conducting the elections. Also taking care that the process does not worsen the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

Chief Election Commissioner has said that the body is looking into all the measures that can be adopted for the elections. Especially, EC is studying the election process carried out by South Korea. The country carried out the National Election by following strict health measures. This included wearing masks and gloves, temperature screening of voters, disinfection of polling stations, etc. We should note that the EC can not just copy the process followed by South Korea. The population of only Bihar (9.9 Crores) is higher than entire South Korea (5.1 Crores).

 

The severity of Pandemic in the Poll Bound States

The strategy of elections will also depend on the extent of the Coronavirus pandemic in the individual states. For the northeastern states like Assam and Puducherry, it will be easier to hold elections as the states have well managed the infection rate. Kerala is also on the brink of being a Corona free state. However, the upcoming elections might be a nightmare for Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and West Bengal.

There is also an opinion that the use of postal ballot or online voting can be an alternative to physical voting. Nonetheless, political consensus will be an impediment to the use of any new technology for voting. Also, there is a high chance that the integrity of the polling process can be compromised if the Internet is involved. The upcoming elections will see campaigning through digital means. An important thing to consider is that the post-pandemic polls will give the least importance to political identity. The judgment will largely be influenced by the welfare schemes and their delivery.

 

 

 

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

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Yogesh is fascinated by the colossal world of Microbes around us and is pursuing a career in Microbiology. He is an avid reader and ponders upon the current affairs, the insights of which are reflected through his writing. Just like the microbes he studies, Yogesh is an adaptable cool-headed guy who strives for a better version of himself. He also believes that there is no sincere love than the love of food.